Mathieu Di Scala, Vivian Sauerbreij, Roel Voorintholt (Artistic Director), Jurrien Schobben, Alexis Geddes, Marlena Wolfe (Ballet Mistress) and Tom Wiggers (General Director).  Photo Mike Henderek

Mathieu Di Scala, Vivian Sauerbreij, Roel Voorintholt (Artistic Director), Jurrien Schobben, Alexis Geddes, Marlena Wolfe (Ballet Mistress)
and Tom Wiggers (General Director).
Photo Mike Henderek

Dance Salad Festival 2015 opened with the Choreographers’ Forum held at the magnificent Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. This year the works of choreographer Jiří Kylián were celebrated. Maggie Foyer reports…

Artistic Director of Introdans, Roel Voorintholt and his dancers spoke about working with Kylián on the reproduction of Trompe L’Oeil, the work they are presenting at the Festival. The Forum opened with the documentary Forgotten Memories. This is Kylián on Kylián: the man himself talking about his life and his work. It is rich in detail, the circus that fired his imagination as a child, the Prague of his childhood filled with men in drab suits and hats – and the ballet school. Then to the buzz of London in the 60s, the Beatles and pop culture, before returning home to celebrate the short lived Prague Spring and the devastating aftermath. He recounted his escape of the last train to Germany with a precious contract to John Cranko’s Stuttgart Ballet in his pocket. The rest is history.

The film is interspersed with performance and rehearsal shots where each of the master’s comments to the dancers relates to the emotion and focus of the movement rather than technique.

Roel Voorintholt opened the conversation relating his mission to bring Kylián’s earlier works to young audiences. Kylián was initially less than enthusiastic, calling them his ‘dinosaurs’ but he warmed to the idea when he saw the results in performance. At their rehearsal studios in Arnhem Introdans had the luxury of his presence for the final rehearsals. Each of the four dancers had a personal story.

Trompe L’Oeil written for four great dance artists from NDT3 is a challenge for young dancers. Alexis Geddes who took on Sabine Kupferberg’s role, spoke of the privilege and also the trepidation. She told of Kylián’s generosity in letting her find her own character in the role. Mathieu Di Scala, whose specific challenges including reciting La Marseillaise (even though his French nationality gives him some entitlement), and dancing a pas de deux while chatting on a mobile phone. Kylián’s confidence in him gave him the courage he needed.

Alexis and Jurrien Schobben in <i>Trompe L'Oeil</i>.  Photo © Amitava Sarkar

Alexis Geddes and Jurrien Schobben in Trompe L’Oeil.
Photo © Amitava Sarkar

Vivian Sauerbreij spoke movingly about the final days of rehearsal. They had been rehearsed to performance level in the interpretations as given by the original cast, then Kylián came to the studio and brought the work alive by personalising the roles and bringing out something special in each dancer.

The short film of Kylián’s recent work Anonymous, was followed by Q&A from the audience. The first one, ‘what does the work mean?’ was well fielded by Jurriën Schobben, who answered that each viewer was entitled to find their own meaning but more important was just to feel the emotion. He reminded the audience that Kylián himself felt that it is more interesting to ask questions than to find answers!

What came across very clearly was Kylián’s deep respect and care for the dancers who were interpreting his work; feelings which are fully reciprocated and Introdans, for their part, are committed to passing these great works on to a new generation.

But on with the dance! The audience now have the chance to judge for themselves and see the dancers in action at the Festival.